No charges against former Labour MP Darren Hughes

Last updated 16:45 08/06/2011
Marcus Wild

Trevor Mallard talks about former Labour MP Darren Hughes who is not being charged following a police investigation.

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DARREN HUGHES: Will not face charges after a police investigation of an incident in the Wellington suburb of Hataitai.

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Former MP Darren Hughes says he has paid a high price for the sex complaint dismissed by police today.

Police said this afternoon that they had decided to take no further action after deciding the complaint against Hughes did not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges.

In a statement Hughes said he had been falsely accused of a serious crime he did not commit and it had been "one of the most challenging experiences in my life".

"However, I held strong to the belief that I had done nothing wrong and that being truthful would see my name cleared. 

"I have always had full confidence that our independent legal processes would lead to the right outcome and the Police's decision shows that such confidence was well-placed."

He had paid a high price by resigning from both his portfolios and Parliament but the "frenzied media attention left me with no choice".

In a statement, Wellington police said the complainant and other family members had asked for privacy and did not wish to comment on the allegations against Hughes.

Detective Inspector Mike Johnson said that the evidence gathered in the investigation against Hughes had been properly considered, internally and by the Crown Solicitors' Office in Wellington.

LABOUR RESPONDS

Mallard, who spoke on behalf of Labour Leader Phil Goff, said throughout the police investigation Hughes had conducted himself with the utmost integrity and the party welcomed the news.

Labour hoped Hughes would be given "time and space" to get on with his life.

He did not know if the complaint made to police was false and said it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

In spite of Hughes' resignation, he still had a future in the party, Mallard said. "The guy is exceptionally talented... A big loss to us."

"If I'd been bruised in that way, I'd want a bit more time," Mallard said when asked if Hughes would be able to return at the 2014 general election.

A number of Labour MPs had spent time with Hughes, who had made it clear to them he was focussed on clearing his name.

Mallard said he had not talked to Hughes about what happened on the night. He did not know how the information got out to the media, but he heard rumours it was leaked from the Beehive.

ALLEGATIONS INVESTIGATED

Inspector Johnson said some media outlets had received an anonymous letter about Mr Hughes whilst police were investigating this complaint.

"I can confirm those allegations contained in the letter have been investigated and there were no matters which arose that required police attention.

"It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on this matter, given the investigation has now been completed and Mr Hughes is not facing any charges. I am also mindful of respecting the privacy of the individuals concerned."

Prime Minister John Key said the National Party had not passed comment at any stage on the matter and would not change that now.

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"I really just don't know any of the details and that's a matter for the Labour Party," Key said.

Social development minister Paula Bennett, who before becoming a minister in the National-led Government had a slot with Darren Hughes on TVNZ's Breakfast show, said she wished Hughes well in whatever he did.

Hughes sought refuge at former TVNZ Breakfast host Paul Henry's Hawke's Bay beach house as the media tried to track him down during the investigation.

HUGHES GRATEFUL FOR SUPPORT

Hughes said he was grateful for the support of family, friends and colleagues from all political persuasions and the support of "good and decent kiwis" who had sent messages of personal support and good wishes.

"That has meant a great deal to me," his statement said.  

He still felt that he had a lot to offer and was looking forward to the future "with optimism".

"Whatever I do, I would like to continue to serve our community and our country. But there's plenty of time."

He would not be making any further public comment.

Hughes' brother Bryce Hughes said his family couldn't be prouder of the way Hughes had handled having his life put on hold for the last 3 months.

"He's a remarkable man and we love him," Bryce said.

- Stuff

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